Monday, August 13, 2018

Decanting (Becoming Minimalist)

You guys. Your comments and emails on the previous post were the BEST.  (Seriously, go back and read what people said if you haven't yet!) I love that we're all on board in our hearts, as we work out what our own personal capacity is.  I think my ideas for more posts have grown now, so I'm going to try and cut them down to size, in smallish bites.

Today, I'm focusing on appearance, and why it matters with minimalism. (It's not what you think.)  One thing I've noticed about minimalists, is that because they have less to manage... they tend to make what they are managing appear appealing. As in, living in the details, appreciating the beauty in the everyday, taking the time to slow and make something lovely just for the sake of the lovely.  (This is why the Danish Hygge movement has become huge by the way.) I read a passage recently in my favorite book series (The Madame Chic books, and yes I am going to reference those books continually until each and every one of you have confessed to not only reading but also loving them as deeply as I do.) about this. The author was making a strawberry tart with Madame Chic, and just dumped the berries in. She was chided by Madame Chic, do this task "avec precision!" This was an ordinary evening dinner- just for family, but what I loved, was the message about living well because you can.  

These days God gives us on earth are such a precious gift, and the people we serve in our homes matter so much... why not offer them the best of your details and services.  Make that tart beautifully with artfully arranged berries swirling in a circle, saving the best berry for the center. Our homes can reflect this same heart of serving and doing, through the process of becoming minimalist and making that which we are managing lovely.  It makes the job more pleasant, which in turn makes our attitudes more pleasant, and it's all connected and spilled out as we go about our tasks. Oh I triple LOVE this!!

So after this occurred to me, I decanted my supplies.

Seriously, it's all connected.  Go with me.  Remember this post, a couple months ago, where I edited my spices (I honestly only used about half of them for crying out loud) and the ones that got kept, were all regulars, but I decanted them into matching jars, and made them all look pretty? It is my favorite kitchen drawer.  I've even seen my kids showing it off to their friends so don't think that living this way, organized, intentional, pretty details in the minimalism, doesn't have an impact on kids of all ages.  It DOES!

I decanted my baking supplies into mason jars with simple labels.  Nothing expensive or fancy, just neat, tidy, and glass so I can see at a glance, what I'm running low on! Efficiency goes along with minimalism and makes life all around easier on the back end, once a system in in place. Less waste and less excess. 

Beyond that, I'm also showing above, that I also edited my oils and vinegars so that I only kept those I use.  I'm also showing my extracts, since I keep them handy and tidy, in a small tin that I repurposed.  (You could house them in anything, and I liked the way this looks, plus I had it on hand so it was a zero expense change.) Everything works so well on a lazy susan by the way. 

Small changes, no matter how small, can make a huge difference in your quality of living.  Have you seen this in your home as well? Do you decant ingredients or pantry items so that you waste less? Do you, like me, love something that serves a purpose, has a low cost and low effort, but high impact?  Minimalism gets a certain reputation and I'm hoping that if you're on the fence about it, you can see that it's more about how you work with what you have, rather than what you do or don't have!  I'd love to hear more of your thoughts in comments. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Capacity and Home Curating (Becoming Minimalist)

Okay here I go, into this new blog series about becoming minimalist!  I have an absolute passion for this topic, being that I am seeing first hand, working as a home organizer, the way having too much creates life chaos.  The best way to tackle this subject, (and make it apply in our homes) is one step at a time, so buckle up, I've got about ten more posts on this subject, coming your way over the remainder of summer/early fall!  (In this post, I'm be sharing a few recent overall home photos that reflect a few changes I've been making. (More on that in a sec!) As we continue, I hope to share some of the lesser seen places, like the garage!) I'm so glad you're following along- your thoughtful comments and emails have really helped me figure out what direction to take this!  
 Capacity.  Have you ever given much thought to this word?  Those who know me in real life, are aware that I adore this word.  I often use it when describing that I'm done, full up, had enough, etc, by saying, "Well I am at capacity with this situation." Knowing that I'm there, often guides me to setting proper and protective boundaries for the future.  For example, in a difficult relationship, once I hit what I feel is my own capacity, I set a boundary for what I can do and what I can not do and go from there.  Make sense?

In the same way, our homes have a capacity.  Often, we push past it and burst the seams and then wonder why we feel stress as we come home each night.  In my own journey, becoming minimalist, I have begun to re-set the bar for my own capacity, at a way lower height and I'm thrilled with how it's shaping up and shaping ME.  Over the past month, I have donated or consigned two full carloads of unwanted, unneeded or unused items.

If you go back years through my blog, you'll be shocked at the amount of editing I have done in the past many years to this point... I mean, it's crazy! You can almost tell when I began doing home organizing for others, as the editing process got REAL!  I would say that I'm the most comfortable in this home, the more minimal I go.  In fact, last week, what really spurred me forward in this becoming minimal journey, was a shopping trip with some of my besties.  I didn't bring a lot of shopping cash because I didn't need much of anything, (I did snag that little wood pinch bowl for my sea salt, above, at Crate & Barrel). I just went for the company and inspiration.  We came home with store catalogues from places like Crate & Barrel, Room & Board, Restoration Hardware, etc.  After coming home, I spent the evening pouring over the pages, realizing that what most spoke "restful home" to me, were (shocking- wait for it) the rooms with clean, minimal, almost hotel-like simplicity.  I spent time the next day doing the most serious edit on our home that I have ever done.  I pulled things off walls, removed excess clutter, emptied more drawers, condensed kept items to only what was often used, needed and intentional choices.  In the space of the past month, I believe I actually opened every drawer or cupboard in my home, touched nearly every item, and made a simple keep or go decision on the spot.  It was ridiculously freeing, and most would say that I didn't have a lot of clutter before this.  But it wasn't my capacity yet and deep down I must have known that.
(I let go of cookbooks I absolutely never use, even though they are the cutest ones ever.  Dishes that I use about once a year went because I've switched to solid, quality white ones over the last two years, and I just enjoy those best.  I edited  through things like wooden spoons, cloth napkins, vases, serving pieces, throw pillows, pillow covers... anything that was being stored, or not regularly used pretty much went! )
 (In the process, I also did some furniture re-shuffling, moving this buffet back in here from the office, and tweaking the office space that I had just shared, once again. Don't laugh.  It was all due to that cowhide rug that came home from Adrain's old office space.  It just needed a better home than in my bedroom and the office is used by Adrain a lot so I made the whole space a bit more masculine feeling. More on that at the end of this post.  In the end, I recovered, the chair cushions, hung a lovely photo from Adrain's office above the desk, got rid of the navy lamp and rug, took down small art for the letterboard I love, and painted the wood dresser... You'll see in a moment.) 

We currently have a three bedroom, 1 den, 2 bath, 1500 sq foot home. I have mentioned this before, that in about three years, we hope to sell it and downsize to a one bedroom, 1 bath condo.  Our goal is less space to manage, less home to clean, less weekend to spend doing, and more time playing! That said, we still will need to downsize belongings like crazy in order to fit into a condo that small and that's why I am on the journey, not done with it.  My job isn't chaotic, but I go into chaotic spaces almost daily, and often come home and edit as needed, as a precaution if you will, after seeing what chaos left unattended can do to a home and family.)

(I wanted to share the kitchen as it currently is, with minimal counter clutter these days as well as a few different angles of the layout so you can see that it indeed does matter. There is only one thing actually hanging on the wall in the kitchen/dining space- a wooden "B" on the walls.  Everything else is leaning and can be easily switched out as they are all pieces that get fairly regularly used.) 

(On that note I want to talk about large scale, vs. small scale for just a moment.  I find that lots of small items can sometimes feel more cluttery than say, a large scale piece that commands attention.  I love the grouping of the bread boards with the tall vase of fig branches, and the huge candle holder on the table.  I removed a couple of the chairs, placing one at the desk and one in our master closet where they can be easily grabbed with larger gatherings. I love the way that feels and looks.  Adrain loves having a chair in the closet as well so it was a win-win!)

 When it comes to our homes, capacity is a two part process.  The first is through purging because most of us have more than we actually need, use or want, and the second, is carefully shopping in the future with that reached capacity in the front of our minds, and curating the homes we desire because of that forethought. It's a one in/one out mentality. For now, capacity in my own home means for example, that we own one set of sheets for each bed. We wash them once a week, dry and remake the same bed at night.  We don't need more sheet sets, because that means more managing of sheets.  Folding, storing, finding space for more... etc. We don't do that. (If I were to purchase any new ones, it would be to replace the old ones, rather than add to.  Does this make sense?  So I would  bring one in, and take the old set out, thus maintaining my current capacity.)

 (Our entry, with the chair consigned, since nobody was using it like I thought.  I painted the white frames, switched out to black and white prints and painted the plant holder on the table, with chalk paint. White just calms me and feels right, so I went with it. I switched out to all fake plants, throughout for zero maintenance. Everything about the evolution of this entry space felt minimal, because there is a place for everything, yet no maintenance for me to manage.  Does that make sense? The lamp is welcoming and useful, the plants are pretty in any place in the home and can go anywhere as they are fake.  The photos are my favorite part though.  Years ago, I had a sofa to ceiling gallery wall and that was great for where I was at, for that time.  It got to be too much though and eventually came down.  Now, I keep two sweet photos above my tv, from when my kids were small, and I keep these current photos here, that I can trade out each year as they change. I love this so much. I don't actually want a ton more photos everywhere.  Just the ones I love and what is current. It works really well for me to do it like this.)

This mentality of capacity and curating, works in all of life from clothing shopping, food shopping, etc. It has changed my LIFE. For example, I  have a small pantry and two teens who often bring friends over.  Yet I seldom shop at Costco these days, and hope to get rid of my card membership soon.  My thoughts about storing and back stocking have changed as I grocery shop weekly.  It means we have just what we need, carefully chosen weekly, only what we will actually eat, less waste, less food getting lost, and just overall LESS.  (Too many things were getting lost in the freezer, getting wasted or forgotten and I decided I didn't need this massive amount of food and supplies on hand at all times. If it doesn't fit into our pantry, we've pushed past enough in my opinion.  Not everyone would agree with me, and some find security in overflowing shelves in the garage for what they don't have room for in their home.  The nice thing, is that we all have our own personal capacity and can work to curate a home that speaks of that, no matter what our own limit is.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this mentality, as I believe it's been lost in this present culture of more, having more, getting more, keeping more, storing more, saving more for just in case... I also believe that many other countries would laugh because they do the one in, one out thing by nature.

Let me know what you think in comments...and below, I'll share the recent office changes that just happened since my last post, after all that purging, editing and painting! Adrain did tell me that this office is very calming to him now. I love that, and I love that it gets used so much. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Command centers (Becoming Minimalist)

I wasn't sure where we should begin, after my previous post about being influenced/trying to reject the perfection push/overdone-ness on social media, while slowly becoming minimalist...  But I did get quite a few private messages begging for more and the "how it's done" etc.  Personally, I've been spending the week working on a command center that works for my entire family, not because Pinterest told me to, but because we needed a system.   After seeking inspiration all over social media, I was severely annoyed by all the cluttery, unneeded excess out there, so I figured this was a good place to begin, with our series.  Besides, once your family system is in place, you can move outward to the other places in your home.  (We will get there, slowly but surely.  My blogging goal is to post once a week on this topic for some time.)  Keep in mind, my brand of minimalism, is (like I stated previously) a work in progress.  I need more of some stuff now with teens than I will need someday, but I need less than I needed when they were toddlers, in other ways.  It's fluid.  Not beating ourselves up for actually needing some things is okay.  Minimalism isn't about having zero... it's about not having excess that gets in the way of life priorities.  (Because the more excess you have, the less you'll live, as you'll spend so much more time managing that stuff.)

So command centers... here it is. TaDa! Things I've seen other people display in theirs after my extensive "Pinter-research": keys, calendars, mail drop zones, schedules, grocery lists, clocks, chalkboards with quotes, artwork in frames, photos, ETC. Since I'm sharing mine, I will tell you... I didn't need half of that stuff in my personal command center, and if I had included those things, this would have felt cluttery, no matter how cutely it's displayed.  I was going for minimal needs MET, more or less. This corner, beside our desk is perfect.  It's mostly hidden from guests, but we see it daily. That is the perfect spot for something that has potential to get cluttered without constant attention.

 My husband and I work the mail/bills system together now, so we needed a joint game plan/ space/ holding spot for papers, so we each know where things are. My minimalist approach for this system, became "handle each item minimally." I know, duh.  In our home it works like this:

1. Mail comes in from the box, gets dropped into the mail bins on the side of our island, which I have shown you many times, (above.) This is our first line, drop zone for everything. Purses, backpacks, shoes even. It's the only place for one, and though I would love a different system, you work with what you have... (which can I just add, is the heart of minimalism, I believe. Not constantly going out and buying the new thing.  Just simplifying it down to what you've got and what works best for your household- not the ones who live inside Pinterest. Ha!)
2. Once the mail is opened (that same day) we separate recycling and toss it into the bin below our sink immediately. (Tip- always deal with all your papers immediately.)

SIDE NOTE: I hung these metal peg boards in the office earlier this summer, and am just now putting them to work with this new system.  I didn't want them going to waste, sitting in the garage, so I moved them because they were perfect for our family here.  This whole thing took a lot of thinking because we have a small home that operates as a command center, rather than being able to have one spot for everything.  What I mean by that, is it's broken up into places that make sense. For example, our family calendar is on the front of the fridge because that works best and we can all add our events to it and see it at all times. I left it there as we are all very used to seeing it from the dinner table as we chat about upcoming schedules, etc.

That said, before you go creating your command center, sit and think it through.  Think about what already works (probably doesn't need changing) and what you're always fighting.  If things get dropped someplace and you can't fight that battle, make a space for it instead.  (Put a bowl where your hubby always leaves his keys, or a container to hold mail, a hook for the purse, a tray for the shoes, etc.) (Make sense?) Only fight what you can win!
So, back to the mail and papers that come in.

3. After recycling is tossed, bills get swept up by me, and put into the "to pay" bin.  The other mail can get placed wherever it needs to go. Misc, papers to be dealt with later (think voters pamphlets, etc.) get placed in another bin in the office because then it's close to the computer where most of them are dealt with, read, filed or grabbed later. It gets them out of our kitchen drop zone and at least gives them a proper, more long-term space. Which is what my husband needs.  I don't but he does, so I make this work. Ideally nothing goes onto the desktop for clutter piles anymore, since the family shares this desktop space.

4. Receipts get pinned to the board nightly, and now have a spot for the weekly checkbook updating.

5. Our household budget is posted and clear (Flipped backward of course, for privacy).

6. Extra items, such as stamps and reward movie tix for teens are gathered here so we can see when we need more, etc.

7. School papers that need to be posted are pinned here as well. (I get them and put them in place immediately, rather than leave them on the counter. This is KEY to that minimal mindset.  Putting things in their places, right away.  Making a snap decision to keep/post, file, recycle, or snap a photo of it so you have the schedule or info at hand. (Tip- always take a photo of any school info, especially field trip info, even if you don't think you'll need it later or you've posted the paper someplace or filed it away. I learned this the hard way!) (I'm betting there is an app for this and if someone has one, please share!)

I used wooden chalk tags (Joann's+magnets glued to back) for sectioning off the peg board and found the push pin magnets at Office Max.  Magnetic clips are great for papers that need to be hung and when everything is categorized and intentional, you can keep items and clutter to a minimum.  You'll instantly know what needs to be kept and what doesn't when everything has a place to go.

Now for other papers.  Our life binder is still the family command tool. (I shared it here as well.) You may want to put one together, and you could keep passwords, important info to remember, address books, emergency contacts, school calendars, folders for each child through the year, etc. (I keep one envelope/file folder for each child in this binder, and during the year, as they present me with their awards, photos, programs for concerts or other keepsake paper items, I tuck them into that envelope.  At the end of the school year, they remove all the papers, sort them, and file them into their grade envelopes, in the bin they each keep in their closets.) (I shared that system here.) I also keep track of their community service projects in a log with their file. (Looming College applications planning, anyone?)

In our office, we also have some working files, and some long term files that I manage.  This is a whole other subject, but my tip is- use uniform files, folders, and labels for a cohesive look.  Keep things logical and simple and put hanging folder tabs on the same side to streamline.  Shred things or recycle immediately, file things as quickly as possible, and have a place and label for all others.  My man makes a LOT of piles and so I gave him a bin to put them in.  When it's full he tends to empty it out and take care of it. As long as he keeps the piles in the bin, we get along just fine (grin) and when he doesn't, I scoop up his piles, and put them into the bin, then he knows nothing got thrown away and knows it's in there. And we don't fight. Ha!

 There are currently coupons we may want to use in this above holder (not shown) that we got at Goodwill for a couple of dollars. (Score!) I really need to use a windshield replacement one soon, and when I make the apt, I'll know right where the coupon is.
Wrapping paper isn't a standard command center thing, but for us, it is an office thing, so I included it since it's located next to our command center. These are the $1.50 Ikea bag holders.  They adhere to the wall but use command strips instead (trust me) and use a couple for storing your paper rolls. (Only keep wrapping papers you LOVE and will actually use.  So many people have way too many on hand which is pointless and takes up too much space. Edit those bad boys and only keep your faves!)

Also just basic, and not necessarily related to the mechanics of this post....  If it's ugly, hide or disguise it.  (Our family phone charging station hides behind the computer, on the small bookshelf which you may have noticed.) If it's pretty, showcase it.  Our pencils are pretty so they get a glass jar that showcases them. Make sense?

Someone asked me about all the chargers for an entire family's devices. Well...  There is no one size fits all.  Tons of solutions, depending on budget. Just find a gadget that charges many devices at night and try to hide the cords.  That's my best advice.  Real people live in real homes and we have cords.- especially when we're all home together.  Pinterest doesn't show cords but c'mon.  We all know better, right? (P.S. I don't hate Pinterest.  Well, mostly.) 

One bonus tip my boss does that I love, is label everyone's charger cords with their name and what device it works with.  Isn't that genius? Okay shoot me your questions in comments! 


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Becoming Minimal...

Apparently I've become an occasional blogger.  At least that's what I recently edited my Instagram profile to say! (@lemonademakinmama) I'd like to make blogging more of a regular thing though, because I've got so much inside of me that I'd like to share.

As time has passed, especially since my daddy died, I see changes in my life that I'm happy about.  One of them has been the reinforced value that things are simply that... "things."  I've been on the mission to downsize our life and home for a few years now and goodness knows I've bashed those words around this site non-stop... I think that's an awesome thing though, so zero apologies here.  I've shared about becoming a minimalist with my clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories.  Gosh I breathe easier as I type that.  It brings freedom deep into my bones.

And I suppose that is where I'm taking this blog, into the future.  The freedom of less.  I recently wrote on Instagram that I'm making room for more and more "LESS." Deep exhale.  As I work in homes, organizing their belongings, I walk into my own home and think daily, about what I don't actually need. Then I get rid of it.  It's honestly that simple.  Though it can seem so complicated somehow.  It isn't! On the front end, it stops me from the spending habits that had defined my entire life until a couple of years ago.  They were mostly impulsive, joyful, yet thoughtless.  Now they are few, careful, and needed overall.  It of course, all began with the clothing, after years of striving for change.  It's honestly a type of bondage and it was holding me back.

I believe what has spring-boarded this mission in my own heart, has been social media.  I had a moment this month (and perhaps you've been here) where I looked around my feed and every home basically looked the exact same way to me!  All were honestly, and I'm sorry to say, though I'm not pointing fingers... overdone.  Just surface after surface so artfully styled within an inch of it's little life, with groupings of things, that I wanted to walk into each home and clear off just ONE of those gorgeous surfaces. Let it breathe! All had the same basic look, as most of their belongings had all been purchased at the same popular shops, and there were simply too many words on every overcrowded wall. And this, coming from a girl who loves groupings of cuteness and words on the walls. I DO! But.  But oh my!  

It's chaos out there people.  And it's making us bring more chaos into our homes and making us think chaos is normal and that we need that one more thing from that most recent collection from that one store we all love, to add to our own personal chaos and our spending is out of control and our stress is too high and our closets are stuffed.  (Well mine aren't, but it's taken time to get myself there so no judgement, just acknowledgement.)

I'll tell you what I did.  I clicked unfollow on over two hundred "identical" accounts.  I know.  It's crazy, and yet I've never been afraid of being bold with my social media. Hello, closed LMM account from years gone by!  As I try to jump back into blogging more and more, I'd like to show how I've made my own changes, but what keeps me cautious, is the idea that I'm not fully a minimalist yet.  And also there are quite a few visual connotations that pop into one's head when they hear, "minimalist."  Be honest, you see blank, white walls, and flat surfaced tables with nothing on them, don't you? I don't think I'm that kind of minimalist.  If I had to categorize myself, my style of minimalism is more of a, "things I use, but not much more" minimalism.  Does that make sense? I mean I do have STUFF.  But I also have blank areas too!  It's a balance that is working for me, but I keep getting rid of more and more so in the end who knows where it will end up.

I don't want to jump on a soapbox and act like I've got the ONLY right answers. But gosh... there aren't that many people out there saying, "Uh hey... let's stop the madness and do life a little different, hmm?" I like those ones who are.  Y'all got it going on, and I'm joining your minimalist teams! I do also think there is a reason people are flipping out over books about "magic & tidying up"....  People want less to manage, and too much stuff rarely sparks any long term joy. We all know this deep down.  We crave spaces in our lives, homes, schedules and hearts.  It's not unachievable either.

Today I'm not sharing photos.  But I will.  Oh I will!  I would like to take you room by room, and talk about what works, what didn't, what I changed, what stayed the same, and what I plan to do as we prepare for our downsize to a condo in a couple short years.  I might be irregular on blog scheduling until summer is over, but if you don't want to miss any, you can always subscribe in your email.  And if you know anyone who is moving into a more minimalistic lifestyle, I would love to "meet" them, so please feel free to share with me in comments!


Monday, June 25, 2018

Well hello again.... (a home & life update)

Dear ones. I have had so many intentions of getting in some blogging time to update you all on a few little things.  I'm so happy I finally had a bit of breathing room carved into my day to make it happen! 

I have returned to work for my organizing company... I am sliding back into it in a brand new capacity though, managing photos and social media for the most part.  (Plus the occasional odd jobs, team errands and filling in for team members on vacation.  I could not love this more!)  You can still find me on Instagram like days of old, under my blogging name, @lemonademakinmama and behind the scenes at my new job @organizedatlast (We dearly LOVE it when you guys give us a follow!!)

To those who already follow me @lemonademakinmama I have not forgotten that I've promised you a maple cake recipe recently... Go here... skip the lemon extract and replace with a tsp maple extract... skip the glaze... bake in a bundt pan... you'll seriously overwhelm people with it's yumminess. (Warm a slice just slightly, about 30 seconds in the morning and it tastes like a pancake.  Perfect with an iced coffee for a lazy breakfast!)

I think Instagram has become my daily blog.  It's where I practice and share my constant photography,(and I'm serious, I have become even more avid about snapping everything lately) share stories of daily happenings, such as finding worms in my houseplant today, etc. (I just love it....the Instagram, not the worms in my plant. Ha!)

Adrain has taken a new job with a new company.  We are thrilled.  He is still working in the Insurance & Financial world, but... he has a salary + bonus structure.  Oh my how happy I was to leave 100% commission behind.  I can't even describe what that three year roller coaster was like here... it would be dozens of posts if I ever wrote them, but I just can't share those things... much too personal.  The new company approached him and the offer was too good to turn away, even though our hearts were so sad to see the door with Thrivent closing.  We loved Thrivent itself. Still, close it did and we are walking into a whole new adventure.  As ever God is good.

We have as always, been hosting many gatherings.  I share them all on Instagram, mostly tabbed in my archived stories so make sure to go check those out.  My favorite gathering thing as shown there, have been the mini bread boards from Ikea, used instead of plates.  They add such a delightfully fun element.
I believe the minimalist inside of me is growing. I continue to shed and edit life in such a way that less is continuing to become my more. I frosted my glass bookcases. I LOVE them.  Don't get me wrong, I loved the styling before, but sometimes, there just seems to be too much going on all around me, and I need calm.  Frosting the doors calmed it ALL right down.  (And if I ever changed my mind, I'll just scrape it off.  I've done that off and on to my front door, for years.)  

 With Adrain no longer needing his business office, his beautifully decorated office components came home to ME. (Can I just wave my arms here and add a "YIPPPEEEE!" I knew there was a reason I decorated it with things I didn't have but always liked!!) I put the gorgeous cowhide rug in our master bedroom, (see photos below) the hammered metal bowl is on our coffee table, now holding our collected shells, and the stump side table came home long ago when a plant that sat on it died.

His gray linen conference table chairs are now sitting around my dining table (I have thoughts on adding easy cotton or linen slip covers over all of them... someday) (You may have also noticed that I painted the tabletop white... in spite of the skeptics and love it.) 
Adrain's office art all came home too, though only the antique framed photograph of evergreen branches is hanging on my walls, above. (His office was such an incredible mix of polished masculinity.  I loved it.) 

Project wise, I made a cute wood, painted sign about coffee and created the world's best coffee bar. (Okay maybe not the world's best... but our home's best, for sure!) The best part, it's ALL stuff we use daily.  Ava uses the little spoons, the honey or sugar bowl, and I use the coffee canister, the cups and saucers and Joe uses the French press.  It's so nice to have it all displayed cutely, yet purposeful and handy! (And yes, I brought back the mug holder for our Anthro mugs.) 

Well dear ones... I wish you were sitting right here with me, drinking some of that coffee right now... I'm sure we'd come up with plenty more to chat about, but I believe that's about all I've got to update you with here, at this time.  Life is good, summer is easy, kids are both working and going nonstop, and the ache in my heart missing my daddy is starting to ease just a bit.  Thank you for being alongside us and our whole story.